Permanent Makeup Pigment


What is REACH Regulation?

In the world of permanent makeup, the safety of PMU pigments is paramount for both artists and clients. The regulations surrounding tattoo inks and permanent makeup pigments changed in the European Union (EU) in January 2022, under new EU REACH regulations, and a change looms for the United Kingdom with UK REACH on it’s way to shake up the UK Permanent Makeup pigment market here too.

Understanding the importance of the changes and the implications it has on the pigments and inks we can use as a PMU Artist no matter where we are globally is paramount.

REACH’s primary goal is to protect public health by categorising chemicals based on their potential risks. By ensuring clear labelling, consumers can make informed choices and understand the contents and intended use of the products they purchase. This commitment to safety and transparency underscores the EU's efforts to promote consumer well-being within the permanent makeup industry.

REACH regulated pigments are arguably the SAFEST choice there is, wherever you are globally - without question.

REACH regulations are rules in the EU that make sure chemicals used in products like permanent makeup pigments are safe. REACH is an acronym for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals. REACH regulations require companies to register and give details about the chemicals they use, evaluate any risks, and get permission for certain levels of potentially harmful substances. They also limit the use of dangerous chemicals to protect people and the environment.

The EU has been proactive in implementing REACH regulations to safeguard the health of consumers of permanent makeup inks and pigments. The transition period ended in January 2022, and new rules were enforceable to regulate the sale and use of over 4,000 substances in products. These regulations establish clear maximum limits for certain chemicals and mandate comprehensive labelling to enhance transparency and consumer awareness.

Are my current PMU pigments safe?

It's essential to understand that the absence of compliance with REACH pigment regulations doesn't inherently signify that the pigments you're using presently are unsafe. Many substances targeted by EU & UK REACH regulations have been utilised in permanent makeup pigments without issue for years. However, the aim of these regulatory changes is to elevate safety standards even further, ensuring that these substances undergo stringent evaluations to minimise any potential risks to consumers. By subjecting these substances to heightened scrutiny and regulation, the goal is to enhance their safety profile and provide consumers with added reassurance regarding the products they use on their skin.

As I already mention if you are looking to use the SAFEST pigments, then REACH regulated lines are where your attentions should focus.

I’m A Permanent Makeup Artist In Not In the UK or EU - How Does This Effect Me?

If you are not in the UK or the EU, then the actual regulations won’t effect you BUT if customer safety and the integrity of the products you use is important to you REACH lines and what they contain (or don’t!) should still interest you.

Since the UK left the EU during Brexit, it no longer has to follow EU guidelines. BUT the UK is drafting its own proposals for PMU pigment safety - UK REACH. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has proposed regulations to enhance safety standards for tattoo inks and permanent makeup pigments. With no specific legislation governing permanent makeup pigments in the UK presently, the proposed regulations aim to bridge this gap and address emerging safety concerns. This is ultimately great news, and brings enhanced safety for UK permanent makeup clientele but it will mean changes!

Drawing it’s inspiration from EU regulations, the UK proposal includes provisions for improved labelling and restrictions on hazardous substances. However unlike the EU’s 21+ banned colourants, the UK’s REACH proposal includes derogations for 19 of these same substances that the EU has restricted in pigments due to health concerns. (This variance raises questions about the level of protection afforded to consumers under the proposed UK regulations, but that’s another article entirely!)

It's important to note that both the UK and EU regulations mandate that permanent makeup pigment labels must list ingredients, even if they are present at undetectable levels, something not previously/currently required. This meticulous attention to detail underscores the commitment to transparency and consumer safety.

While the EU REACH regulations establish a direct link between permanent makeup pigment restrictions and the Cosmetics Products Regulation (CPR), the UK proposal severs this connection. This deviation could have implications for product oversight and consumer safety within the UK market, highlighting the need for alignment with established EU standards.

Will My Favourite Pigments Change Formula?

The removal of certain colourants for products for sale in the EU, has posed significant challenges for pigment chemists tasked with creating these new permanent makeup pigment formulations. The banned colourants, which are predominantly certain reds and yellows, mean existing colour mixes have become unachievable due to the absence of these colorants. This has lead to the need for innovative solutions and reformulations, and many permanent makeup pigment manufactures have created existing new lines in the process.

The addition of carbon has become necessary. This addition not only eases implantation into the skin due to its particle size but also results in all REACH pigments becoming a hybrid mix of both organic and in-organic elements. Whilst some PMU artists fear carbon/organics, the smartest pigments chemists have been able to create pigments with more in-organic component than others, meaning soft heals and fades are still achievable with the right lines and techniques.

Brands like Li Pigments, with over 30 years of experience, have been successfully working with hybrid pigments for a considerable time, many other pigment ranges have struggled to adapt and reformulate their products to meet the new regulatory standards.

Their Organic range Li Loaded is REACH compliant, and their Hybrid line Li GLOBAL are exquisite.

Implications for Artists

PMU artists in the UK (and world-wide) must stay informed about regulatory developments and adapt their practices accordingly to uphold safety and quality standards within the industry.

The proposed regulations in the UK present both opportunities and challenges for practitioners. It will mean that those using non UK REACH compliant pigment ranges will need to invest in and learn a new pigment line to stay compliant, and ranges that are not REACH compliant will no longer be legal to buy, sell or use on the skin in the UK.

Looking Ahead As A PMU Artist

If pigment brand wish to continue to sell products legally and artists intend to use them in the EU or Europe eventually they will need to move to a REACH approved range. Li Pigments have worked incredibly hard using all their fabulous years of knowledge to create wonderful REACH regulated pigments.

Getting to truly know your pigment line, how it heals and ages can take years, so if you are using a range that isn’t REACH compliant, it’s something to keep yourself aware of and to put on your to do list..... It seems a long way off, but is only in reality a couple of "colour boosts" away!

In conclusion, the proposed regulations for permanent makeup inks in the UK under UK REACH represent a step towards improving safety standards within the industry, it is presently expected in 2027. Those artists ahead of the curve are already offering their clients pigments which are REACH compliant.

Advice on colours and changing pigment lines

Often changing pigments can seem daunting. Please get in touch, and I can help you to choose the colours that are right for you. Also we have a starter kit which is very popular

Alice Kingdom is a well known permanent makeup trainer, and international speaker.

If you would like more information about the contents of this article, or about how to make pigment choices we would love to hear from you!